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— urbantick

Book – Literature, Architecture, Landscape – one Project

No project is like the other, even if you run projects around the globe ranging in scale from big to large. Steven Holl currently is one of the very busy architects working on some large scale building projects in different countries from America, France to China.
The work grows and develops dramatically and already since his book Urbanisms was published last year a whole portfolio of projects can be added.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from archicentral / Sketch by Steven Holl for the Knut Hamsun Centre in Norway.

This one here however is not one of them, this project is different and it has its own book. It is not about Steven Holl or his architecture. It is about something more, about a very successful synthesis for which architecture only plays a part.

Lars Mueller Publishers have published a new book ‘Hamsun, Holl, Hamarøy ‘on the Hamsun Centre, a museum or a cultural centre for the work of the important Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, who won the Nobel Price in 1920 for his literature work “for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil“.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from bustler / The Knut Hamsun Center, located in Hamarøy, Norway and designed by Steven Holl Architects, opened to the public on August 4, 2009.

The publications brings together the two characters Hamsun, Holl and adds the great landscape of Nordland. It is not a project that is calling for attention and screams, this is a very pure piece of work, very focused and dedicated.

Holl was contacted back in 1994 to consider working on this project and over fourteen years later the building was opened in 2009. It seems like a real ove story, its not the typical job and the publication emphasises this personal aspect to a great extend, witch makes it a great read.

Hamsun’s most famous text ‘Hunger‘ plays a very important role in the building Holl proposed and as Juhani Pallasmaa in the essay puts it: “past the stone foundations of the former vicarage, we suddenly arrive at the tower, which seems to be tossing and turning in search of vertical posture. The upright image of the building with its window -eyes and ochre hair around its top suggested a human figure.”

The landscape as mentioned, plays an important role too and features in each text contribution as either the context, but very often as the introduction, how the building is approaches is very central. Further more the landscape of course plays the dominating role in the sketches and photographs documenting the project. Its a journey, in the many meanings of the word, is the central theme. The fact that the site is above the Arctic Circle makes it just this bit more romantic.

Hamsun Centre by Holl
Image taken from Abitare / THe tower with one of the balconies and some of the context landscape.

The dedication goes through the project into the book. This publication will be your little treasure and you’ll find a special place for it on the shelf.

Langdalen, E.F. et al., 2010. Hamsun, Holl, Hamarøy, Baden: Lars Müller Publishers.